A Cautious Man
September 28, 2006
And When You Realize How They Tricked You This Time
Well, earlier this evening the "Military Commission" (a.k.a. Torture-and-no-Habeas-Corpus Act of 2006) passed the Senate. As reported here -
All Republicans but one (Chafee) voted in favor. Democrats voting in favor included Carper, Johnson, Landrieu, Lautenberg, Lieberman, Menendez, Nelson (Fla.), Nelson (Neb.), Pryor, Rockefeller, Salazar and Stabenow.
Look at all the Democrats going along with this. As Professor Balkin wrote, when noting that the Democrats had given up the chance to filibuster the bill:
So let me get this straight: The Democrats give up the chance at filibustering one of the worst bills in recent memory because they were afraid that the President would paint them as soft on terrorism.

After the bill passes, the President plans to paint them as soft on terrorism.

What a spineless, worthless lot the Democrats in the Senate are. They deserve every lost Senate and House seat that comes from this.
I wouldn't go that far, but it's discouraging when we thought the whole point was to take a principled stand. This bill gives the President "discretion" to decide what's permissible - gee, four years ago they gave him "discretion" to decide whether it was necessary to invade Iraq, and that worked out just great. This year, they actually have a legitimate point, which they should have tried to make. Now, what can they say? As Professor Balkin wrote the day before:
The Democrats may think that if they let this pass, they are guaranteed to pick up more seats in the House and Senate. But they will actually win less seats this way. For they will have proved to the American people that they are spineless and opportunistic-- that, when faced with a genuine choice and a genuine challenge, they can keep neither our country nor our values safe.

The current bill, if passed, will give the Executive far more dictatorial powers to detain, prosecute, judge and punish than it ever enjoyed before. Over the last 48 hours, it has been modified in a hundred different ways to increase executive power at the expense of judicial review, due process, and oversight. And what is more, the bill's most outrageous provisions on torture, definition of enemy combatants, secret procedures, and habeas stripping, are completely unnecessary to keep Americans safe. Rather, they are the work of an Executive branch that has proven itself as untrustworthy as it is greedy: always pushing the legal and constitutional envelope, always seeking more power and less accountability.
As a voter in New Jersey, I'm particularly disappointed in Senators Lautenberg and Menendez. I honestly thought that we didn't have to keep an eye on these guys, and that they wouldn't knuckle under to the political threats. Instead, they joined with the Bushists to vote for a bill that was posted purely for political reasons. The Bushistas cared less about whether the bill was sound, constitutional, or responsible - they clearly just wanted something that would allow them to attack Democrats as being "soft" on terrorism. And who cares what they have to authorize, in order to be able to do that.

So, Senators Menendez and Lautenberg, as well as the other Yes-voting Democrats, have linked arms with their equally feckless colleagues across the aisle to sing their little ditty about committing unspeakable acts on the Constitution (not to mention the detainees) -

A pretty rape!
A literary rape!

Just try to see it.
And you will soon agree, señors,
Invite regret,
When you can get the sort of rape
You'll never ever forget.

You understand?
I understand.
It's very grand.
It's very grand.
It's done with drums and a great big brass band!

Just try to see it.
I see it!
I see it!
And you will soon si,si señors,
Invite regret,
When you can get the sort of rape
You'll never ever forget.

So why be stingy?
It depends on what you pay!
The kids will love it.
It depends on what you

(Lyrics from The Fantasticks)



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